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2014 Lincoln MKX’s Tree-Based Alternative Replaces Fiberglass

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MKX’s tree-based alternative

Above: 2013 MKX; 2014 Lincoln MKX will have a tree-based alternative to replace fiberglass.

Believe it or not, but one of the many ways that we can save the trees is by using them to construct our vehicles—or components of them, at least. Lincoln is pioneering the development of tree-based components in its MKX for the 2014 model year. The MKX’s tree-based alternative will replace the fiberglass material that makes up the floor console armrest substrate.

So what is the MKX’s tree-based alternative exactly? It’s called Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene, (aren’t you glad you asked?) and is the product of a three-year collaboration between Weyerhaeuser (a sustainable solutions pioneer) and Johnson Controls (a parts supplier). Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene (hereafter called CRP because nobody can pronounce the real thing) is renewable and is made from tree-harvested natural fibers instead of glass-based fibers (i.e. fiberglass).

The pieces made from CRP are about six percent lighter than fiberglass pieces and reduce our reliance on fiberglass, which is not eco-friendly like CRP. And while the CRP’s use in the MKX is nothing major, it does pave the way for a future in we use this tree-based alternative more commonly.

“If we transfer its use to larger parts, it could really benefit the vehicle weight, which benefits fuel economy,” Ellen Lee, plastics research technical expert for Ford, said. “Cellulose has good reinforcement, so we looked at fiberglass-reinforced materials for this project.”

Dan Brady, Lincoln consumer marketing manager, concluded, “Today’s Lincoln customer is someone who appreciates luxury but it has to have meaning in the larger picture. They want to be proud of their car for what it does for them but they also want a sustainability that provides something more. This customer is about an automotive brand that has stunning design as well as personal bonus such as an environmentally impactful element.”